June 13, 2024


World's finest Food

GOP turns culture war into a food fight

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Conservatives last week gobbled up a false news story claiming President Joe Biden planned to ration red meat. Colorado Rep. Rep. Lauren Boebert suggested Biden “stay out of my kitchen.” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted out a headline warning Biden was getting “Up in your grill.”

The news was wrong — Biden is planning no such thing — but it was hardly the first time the right has recognized the political power of a juicy steak. Republican politicians in recent months have increasingly used food — especially beef — as a cudgel in a culture war, accusing climate-minded Democrats of trying to change Americans’ diets and, therefore, their lives.

“That is a direct attack on our way of life here in Nebraska,” Gov. Pete Ricketts, a Republican, said recently.

The pitched rhetoric is likely a sign of the future. As more Americans acknowledge the link between food production and climate change, food choices are likely to become increasingly political. Already, in farm states, meat eating has joined abortion, gun control and transgender rights as an issue that quickly sends partisans to their corners.

“On the right, they are just going for the easiest applause line, which is accusing the left of declaring war on meat. And it’s a pretty good applause line,” said Mike Murphy, a Republican consultant. “It’s politically effective, if intellectually dishonest.”

Ricketts was among the first to seize on the issue in recent months. In March, the governor — whose state generated $12 billion from livestock and meat products last year — slammed his Colorado counterpart, Democratic Gov. Jared Polis, for suggesting Coloradans lay off the red meat one day as a way of cutting back on greenhouse gas emissions.

Republican Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds followed Ricketts’ comments quickly, claiming in a campaign fundraising email, “Democrats and liberal special interest groups are trying to cancel our meat industry.”

In her weekly column a few weeks later, Republican Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa blasted “everyone from out-of-touch politicians to Hollywood elites” as leading the left’s “war on meat.”